WIMBLEDON, England — So, Martina Navratilova, your path to the women's final and a record ninth Wimbledon title has been cleared of Steffi Graf, now how do you feel?
"I'm just trying not to hyperventilate," Navratilova said.
All that separates the 33-year-old Navratilova from a ninth Wimbledon crown--Helen Wills Moody had eight, the last in 1938--is Zina Garrison.
The odds are against Garrison, who is 1-27 against Navratilova.
"I've beaten her once and I've played her close in a lot of situations," Garrison said. "And you get to a final, a final like this on grass, anything can happen."
A 26-year-old Texan, Garrison is the second black woman to appear in a Wimbledon final. The first was Althea Gibson, who won consecutive titles in 1957 and '58.
Navratilova's 98 Wimbledon singles victories are a record. In six matches so far this year, Navratilova has lost only 24 games, without dropping a set, as she chases her dream of a record ninth title.
"I've had a bit of an obsession, too," Garrison said.
"I worked on a lot of sprints, a lot of running, weights--I was running eight, nine miles a day almost--and just trying to get into top shape and be ready, (so) if I have the opportunity to do it, I knew I could do my best."
To get to the final, Garrison saved 28 of 38 break points, won 84% of her service games and beat No. 3-seeded Monica Seles and No. 1 Graf.
Garrison has even served more aces than Navratilova, 13-11.
"She has beaten Steffi, so she can certainly beat me," Navratilova said. "I'm confident, too, but I'm not certainly counting my chickens before they're hatched."